Golf

Bob Gillespie

SOUTH CAROLINA INSIDER

What are the names of some nice coastal courses that are fit for beginners, ie., executive courses? - Tim, New Jersey
Tim, Though South Carolina is best known for its full-sized golf, there are a number of executive and par-3 courses available. And as luck (yours) would have it, many of them are located along the coast.

Myrtle Beach, in fact, has four such courses. Tupelo Bay (1800 U.S. 17 South, Murrells Inlet) gives you the most options, offering both an 18-hole lighted executive course and a 9-hole “pitch and putt” par-3 course, plus a driving range with both turf and mats teeing areas. The course is open 7 a.m.-11 p.m. in season and closes at 10 p.m. off-season. Call (843) 215-7888.

The Grand Strand also has a trio of par-3s: Harbour View Par-3, 901 U.S. 17 North, Little River, call (843) 249-9117; Cane Patch Par-3, 7201 North Kings Highway, Myrtle Beach, call (843) 315-0301; and Midway Par-3, 423 29th Avenue South, Myrtle Beach, call (843) 913-5335. Harbour View and Midway have 18 holes, Cane Patch nine.

In the Hilton Head area, the Executive Golf Club (41 Executive Golf Club Drive) is a nine-hole facility in Bluffton, playing 1,656 yards and a par of 30, with a putting green and weekend rates of $29. Click here or call (843) 686-6400.

The Charleston area has something unique: Eagle Landing Golf Club (1500 Eagle Landing Blvd., Hanahan), which originally was built to accommodate limited-flight golf balls that only travel half the distance of regular balls. The course plays to a par of 58 for 18 holes. Call (843) 797-1667. In nearby Moncks Corner is Cypress Point Par-3 (239 Cypress Garden Road), call (843) 761-5599.

Inland from the coast, there are other executive/par-3 courses as well. For a full list, click here.
 
I have three weeks in the Carolinas coming up but only one or two days for golf (tears!) I would like to go somewhere memorable, stay on or near the course and not break the bank. (12 handicap and my wife about 30). Can you recommend a course or two - Mike, Maple Ridge, B.C.
Mike,

You don’t say where in South Carolina you’ll be – hey, it’s a bigger state than you realize – but I’m going to gamble you and your wife will be in a metropolitan area, so let’s hit some big-city highlights.

Charleston has a wealth of great golf, starting with its two resorts, Kiawah Island (The Ocean Course plus four others, by such names as Nicklaus, Fazio, Dye and Player) and Wild Dunes (two Tom Fazio designs). Those might be pricier than you want, but no worries: The area has a bunch of reasonable deals. Check Charleston National, RiverTowne, Patriots Point and Dunes West, all near Mount Pleasant; Coosaw Creek or Shadowmoss, both north of the city; the Links at Stono Ferry (voted Charleston’s top course in 2011) to the west off U.S. 17; or historic Charleston Municipal, just minutes from downtown.

If it’s Columbia, a dozen or more public-access courses are worth a look: The Golf Club of South Carolina at Crickentree is superb but difficult, while Oak Hills is very user-friendly, Northwoods is a favorite of the city’s top players, Golden Hills is a rolling-terrain layout near Lexington, and Timberlake, near Chapin, is as its name suggests has holes overlooking Lake Murray. There area plenty of nice hotels around town and downtown, plus The Vista and Five Points for dinner and recreation.

Greenville, a business giant in recent years, also has a good lineup of courses. The Preserve at Verdae, renovated in the past two years, is a jewel and easily accessible from I-85; Furman University Golf Course also has been redone and is the home of LPGA stars Beth Daniel, Betsy King and Dottie Pepper; plus Hillandale and Hejaz Shrine, while a bit further away are such choices as River Falls (Gary Player design), Cherokee Valley (P.B. Dye) and Millstone Golf Village. Downtown Greenville is as good as it gets, particularly its revitalized Main Street corridor, which several luxury hotels nearby.

On the chance that you and your wife are coming to the Myrtle Beach area -- hard to imagine you'd do that and only play once or twice -- there are more than 100 courses to choose from. High on your list should be the Mike Strantz-designed duo of Caledonia Golf & Fish Club and True Blue Plantation; the five-star (Golf Digest) TPC at Myrtle Beach, home course for PGA Tour superstar and S.C. native Dustin Johnson; and The Dunes Golf & Beach Club, rated the best Grand Strand course in 2012 by the S.C. Golf Course Ratings Panel. For information on these and more, go to www.mbn.com.

Wherever you are, there’ll be good golf, and good fun, not far away.
 
We are planning our annual golf trip for mid May and are considering the Hilton Head area this year. I’d like to know: What is a typical core aeration schedule for the area courses? Is mid May a good time for area golf? Thanks - Jag, Virginia
Jag,

According to Cary Corbitt, Sea Pines Resorts’ director of golf and sports, you and your group have picked a perfect time to visit Hilton Head Island for golf at its peak. Sea Pines, home of world-famous Harbour Town Golf Links, Heron Point by Pete Dye and the Ocean Course, annually does their aerification of the course’s greens the last week of May – and they’re usually the first in the area to do so. “Most of the area courses will aerify in June,” Corbitt says. “That way they can get through the transition (from winter to summer grasses) and all be back in top condition by the July 4th weekend.”

Corbitt says the only possible issue for you might be if you plan to play private courses (with 24 public and public-access courses on Hilton Head and in the neighboring Bluffton area, there's no need). Some of the private courses will aerify their greens in mid-May, so you should avoid those courses at that time. But all area resorts wait until the end of May or early June.

If you want a guide to all the golf in the Hilton Head/Bluffton area, you can get the area’s “Guide to Golf,” a publication of the Lowcountry Golf Course Owners Association, at P.O. Box 7882, Hilton Head Island, S.C. 29938-9790, or go to www.hiltonhead.golfersguide.com.
 
I am going to be in Greenville in mid April. What is a not-to-miss course I just have to play. I am 64 years old with a 7 handicap. - Chip, Birmingham, Ala.
Chip,

The easy answer(s) are, alas, the city’s two premier private clubs: Greenville Country Club’s Chanticleer Course and Thornblade Club. Both are homes to many of South Carolina’s resident PGA Tour and Nationwide Tour members, headed by the state’s “Golf Godfather,” Jay Haas, whose home overlooks a wicked par-3 at Thornblade. Away from town, The Cliffs at Keowee Vineyards and The Reserve at Lake Keowee, both near the tiny community of Sunset and both private, are spectacular and tough. If you can finagle your way on to any of those, you won’t be disappointed.

The rolls of area public golf courses also have good choices for the single-digit-handicapper, especially if you don’t mind driving a bit. A local favorite is Cherokee Valley, near the Greenville County town of Tigerville, designed by P.B. (son of Pete) Dye and featuring extreme elevation changes and great views, plus typical Dye golf. Furman University Golf Club, on campus on the north side of town, is fun but deceptively tough; just ask former All-Americans and LPGA stars Beth Daniel, Betsy King and Dottie Pepper. The Preserve at Verdae, just off Interstate 85 near the city’s heart, likewise features dramatic terrain and challenging shots.

Get out of town, and Links O’ Tryon (going east, near Greer) is one of native-son Tom Jackson’s best. River Falls Plantation, a Gary Player design near Duncan, is typical of the Hall of Famer’s work. And around Clemson (about a 25-minute drive) are The Walker Course, the scenic lake-side home of the university’s golf team, and Boscobel Golf Course, with some of the area’s most difficult greens.

The nationally-ranked Tigers golf team swears by those greens when preparing for a tournament. You might just swear, period.
 
Bob, I am going to the Masters and am hopeful of playing golf with my son (18 years old) on Thursday afternoon and Saturday of Masters week. We're staying in Columbia but are unfamiliar with the area. Any thoughts of where to start? - Mike, Greenwich, Conn.
Mike,
Congratulations, you’ve picked a week when courses around Columbia – including a few private ones – open their doors to Masters’ visitors (hey, it’s an influx of players and money, so why not take advantage?). That said, the prices in Columbia will meet or beat anything you can find closer to Augusta, so if you’re here, why not enjoy it?

Columbia has more than a dozen public-access courses, many of which encourage visitor golf. The Golf Club of South Carolina at Crickentree is the area’s most challenging public links, but Oak Hills, Northwoods, Golden Hills, Timberlake and others are also quite good and offer a range of prices.

You also might check out Golf Packages of South Carolina or call (803) 892-3752, where Ricky Saucier can wax eloquent on the area’s best deals. And don’t forget some of the private clubs, which make tee times available that week. Columbia Country Club, Spring Valley, The Members Club (Woodcreek and WildeWood), Woodlands, Windermere are all excellent. Your only problem likely will be picking just two – maybe you and your son should stick around an extra day or two.